BOSTON – After over 86 minutes of hockey, 118 saves and 127 shots on goal, the Boston University and University of New Hampshire quarterfinal series came down to just one goal in double overtime.
It came from BU’s Alex Chiasson, who already had three assists on the night, six minutes and 42 seconds into that second overtime period to clinch tonight’s win, and a trip to the Garden, for the Terriers.
What I saw
UNH came out with full force and controlled puck possession early in the first period, dominating shots on goal 16 to 4. After an early goal from BU’s Evan Rodrigues, the Wildcats countered with four unanswered goals, giving them a 4-1 advantage midway through the game. The Terrier response in the second half of the game wasn’t so much due to any fault of UNH, but more because BU elevated their own level of play to match that of the Wildcats.
It was impossible to ignore the two players at either end of the ice tonight, and with 68 saves from senior Kieran Millan and 50 saves from freshman Casey DeSmith, it’s easy to see why. Once again, Millan kept BU in this game in the first half when their production slipped, and again towards the end when he made a glove save on a Stevie Moses slapper in overtime. Millan’s 68 saves made for a personal record on his last night playing at Agganis Arena.
What I thought
Despite tonight’s end to their season, the Wildcats had quite the turnaround this year. After dropping their first four games of the season, the Wildcats went on a seven game non-losing streak, and then went one and seven in their next eight. The rollercoaster of wins and losses continued for UNH, but the ups and downs caused the team to dig deep come the second half of the season, and they certainly made strides down the stretch that showed their strength and ability.
BU was able to win this series without any strength on the power play. They were 0 for 11, allowing one shorthanded goal, but survived thanks to Millan. Overall, the Terrier power play was just too slow without enough puck movement. While they were able to obtain possession off initial faceoffs, they weren’t able to make anything happen once in the attacking zone because of turnovers that cost them scoring opportunities.
What they said
“I was very, very proud of the way my team played, every one of them. I told them in the locker room that I’ve had some teams that have gone a lot further, winning seasons, that haven’t had the grit and determination of this team. That being said, it’s a tough one to take because of how hard they played and the chances that we had”
– Dick Umile
“Once you get the second goal it’s like all of a sudden we really thought we had a chance. Noonan was sneaking down the back door where he’s gotten a whole bunch of his goals…I thought after that we started to compete and then we really competed hard. Once we made it 4-4, then I thought New Hampshire had blown a 4-1 lead, it looked like, and then they played hard again. I thought they played great in the third period, as I thought we did, too. Once we got the fourth goal I thought, this will be easy, we should be able to roll them now, and no such luck. “
– Jack Parker
“It was almost a little emotional when we did the salute, I guess. You don’t really think about it that much while you’re playing or even this entire year I haven’t really though about it, even in senior’s night. But it really is coming to an end a little bit and it’s weird to think that I’ve spent four years here, me and all the other seniors have spent four years here and all the things we’ve been through. It’s kind of sad but at the same time we have a great opportunity ahead of us to win something big and go out with a bang so we’re focused on that, but it has been a pleasure to play here.”
– Kieran Millan
What they didn’t say
After the come back season they had, this loss has to be devastating to UNH. The fact that they competed at such a high level and lost the game, and their hopes of furthering their post season, in an instant has got to hurt.
Parker contrasted Maine’s offense to Merrimack’s when asked about his two potential opponents, citing differences in the spread of talent, but didn’t let on to how much of a challenge the combination of Joey Diamond, Brian Flynn, and Spencer Abbott could be for the Terriers come Friday.
What else you should know
BU will face Maine Friday night at TD Garden at 8 p.m. for the Hockey East semifinals. It’ll be a rematch of the 2010 semifinal in which Maine knocked off the Terriers, 5-2.
The winner of that game will face either Providence College or Boston College on Saturday night in the conference championship game.